By Chris Ihidero
Perhaps the watchword for this season should be nostalgia. Over the past month or so, every event that has brought a nostalgic feeling to a seemingly oversaturated Lagos events crowd has been a massive success. Starting with Tee A’s Tyme Out with Tee A Lagos Concert, King Sunny Ade and Ras Kimono took the audience down memory lane with classic tracks like ‘Easy Motion’, ‘Rumba Style’ and ‘Under Pressure.’
At the K1 Live Unusual Concert, K1 himself and Dr. Victor Olaiya gave memorable performances that evoked deep feelings for a time and place long overshadowed perhaps by more recent musical offerings. At these two events you could see on the faces of many admirers of Nigerian music of a few decades ago that there was a longing that concert organisers in Lagos were failing to satisfy.
Hennessy Artistry righted that wrong.
The finale for Hennessy Artistry 2014 held at the Landmark Event Centre in Victoria Island/Oniru on Saturday, December 6, 2014, with 2Face Idibia and WizKid as the show’s headliners. The choice of 2Face and WizKid had followed the year’s theme: The Art of Blending. Both artistes straddle two ends of contemporary Nigerian music, with 2Face as the living legend and WizKid as one of the leading lights of his generation. Perfect blend. With legendary DJ Jimmy Jatt and rising star on the wheels of steel DJ Spinall, another perfect blend was achieved, and when both of them displayed their skills at the finale, with Jimmie moderating, magic happened.
This is what usually happens at most shows in Lagos: The reigning artistes prance onto the stage one after the other in their sagging jeans or short dresses and high heels. You know the song already so the DJ cues the music and the artiste mimes, sometimes with the microphone actually turned off. There’s little stagecraft, save for the dance of the day, currently Shoki. That’s about it. After a few shows you know the routine and you dance to one or two songs, nod your head to the rest, yawn a few times and take yourself home when the charade is over.
At the Hennessy Artistry finale, all hell was let loose the moment Daddy Showkey jumped on stage unannounced and screamed: Somebody call my name! The crowd rose, as if on cue, and replied: Showkey! And to quote @texthelaw in his The Chronicles of Chill series, ‘ …for there erupted a riotous roar and there was no longer a gaddem modicum of chill in the gaddem land!!!’ You will not often catch me dancing in public but if the video of what Yaw, Tosyn Bucknor and I did to Showkey’s song that night ever makes it to any online platform, I am ruined.
One after the other, unannounced, artistes from Nigeria’s rich contemporary music scene from about fifteen years ago came on stage to perform their greatest hits. Baba Fryo, Marvelous Benji, Azadus, Jazzman Olofin, Ruggedman, Olu Maintain and Blackky. When Mad Melon and Mountain Black stepped on the stage, I went berserk. When was the last time you saw a live performance of Danfo Driver or Kpolongo? When Styl Plus (just Zeal and Shifi) came on, all the ladies in the hall lost their minds. Their scream went through the roof and leapt into the ears of Yemoja in the ocean behind the venue. All the IJGBs looked lost. 2Face emerged later, after WizKid’s performance and called on his former band mates, Faze and Blackface but their performance felt anticlimactic.
And that was not all.
There’s a reason Jimmy Jatt is still the top DJ in the land and that reason was pretty obvious during the blending with DJ Spinall, with Jimmie moderating. Spinall is a rookie, compared to Jatt but I could see why he’s been turning up in a lot of places lately. He held his own against the master and together they kept people on the dance floor for hours.
When I left the venue at 3am there were still people on the dance floor. That’s unusual for a concert in Lagos, except at clubs and bars. Usually, by the time the headliner is done performing, the hall is half empty.
Hennessy Artistry got this one spectacularly right and that might already have been the event of the season, so early on.
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